Ashley Jackson was ‘over the moon’ to extend his Boston United contract - but the defender believes the hard work is still ahead of him.
The left back stepped up two divisions after joing as from Ossett Town last summer, primarily as cover for Jordan Gough.
But an impressive pre-season saw Jackson make the shirt his own, contributing 42 appearances and being voted runner-up behind George Willis in the Player of the Year awards.
“I’m over the moon,” he said of extending his stay until summer 2020.
“I want to keep improving, to be honest. I was grateful for the opportunity to step up to this level and I want to thank the fans for giving me the confidence to push on.
“Hopefully, we’ll come back stronger next season.”
But while the former Goole and Leek Town player is happy about remaining at the Jakemans Stadium, he believes his toughest challenge will be staying in the starting XI.
“When I was offered the new contract it was a bit like feeling the hard work’s paid off,” he continued.
“Last season I saw this as a stepping stone but next season is another stepping stone in terms of ‘right, I’ve stepped up. What more can I do?’
“I want to become a better player and still play with good players, who will help me become a better player.
“I’m thrilled to bits and grateful.”
Last summer Jackson admitted he was ‘bricking it’ after moving from Ossett and finding himself sharing a changing room with former Football League players such as Nathan Arnold, Jonny Margetts and Adam Marriott.
But when he reports back for pre-season training it will be a different scenario.
He said: “In terms of belonging, I think I’ve deserved the chance to come back. But I’m not resting on my laurels.
“I’ll be fighting for my place and making sure I make my mark at the place and the shirt my own.
“I’ve got to provide for the team. The one thing I’ve not done last season is go forward enough.
“Now I know what the level’s about, what the fans expect and what the gaffer expects. I want to provide what they want next season.”
As well as having a better knowledge of life at Boston, Jackson will also feel a lot more confident about the opposition he will face after a season of discovery.
“In my head I’ve got my checklist of grounds where I know what it’s like, or which teams play in a certain way,” he told The Standard.
“I know whether I’m psyching myself up for a passing game or a physical game.
“The players as well, we’ve had reports done but playing against players on the day can sometimes be different.
“But now I’m understanding what to expect it can only benefit me.”